Could bad polls this week affect the Blair departure date?
If ICM and Communicate Research are following their normal schedules then the fieldwork for their January surveys will have been taking place this weekend – just as the war of words between some senior Labour figures and the police reached a new height.
So we will only have to wait a couple of days to find out whether what appeared to be a concerted strategy to rubbish the police is resonating with the public or not.
On the face of it the attacks by David Blunkett, Tessa Jowell and Lord Puttnam look unwise. They keep a bad news story for Labour in the headlines and there’s a risk that they could end up with egg all over their faces.
There is another danger as well – the police feel the need to defend themselves and other damaging stories start to come out.
What are we to make, for instance, of a report in the Sunday Telegraph that the Scotland Yard team were “forced to hack into Downing Street computers in the search for evidence”?
The raising of the temperature might even have an impact on the Blair departure date. According to John Rentoul in the Independent of Sunday the events on Friday led to “speculation at Westminster turned to whether Brown would be able to use the latest twist in the cash-for-honours inquiry to hurry Blair out of office.”
It is not hard to envisage a plethora of “Blair must go earlier” calls if this week’s polls are not good for Labour. A month ago ICM for the Guardian had Labour on 32% trailing the Tories on 40%. If the January survey shows a bigger Labour deficit then there could be quite an impact.
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